Our thoughts on architecture

Rough Draft: Qualification Based Selection

This is quoted from a letter from Benjamin Latrobe to Robert Mills. Benjamin Latrobe was the "Architect of the Capitol" from 1803-1811.

I place this quote here for current clients, potential clients, and the public in general for consideration when selecting an Architect with whom to work. Architecture is a combination of Art and Science (or Art and Engineering). You hire an Architect to design something that has not been designed. You have in mind an Idea or conception of your need. But there is nothing concrete yet. You ask the architect "How much will your services cost". This quote from America's first Professional Architect may help to understand the value of an Architect.

"An architect... Should first be informed what it is that is wanted what expense might be contemplated by his design: What the particular views of the persons who have the management of the money devoted to the work.

There will be on the part of a sensible and good-tempered man no objection to any reasonable extent of revision or re revision of a first design. Enlargement, contraction alteration of arrangement, of construction and of decoration may be made by a man of talents in almost infinite variety, and suggestions from unprofessional men politely and kindly made are always acceptable. But no honest many will for a moment listen to the proposal that he shall lend his name to the contrivances of whim or ignorance, or under the pretense of a cheap, give to the public a bad work. There is, as in most proverbs, a vast deal of good sense in the old Latin proverb...IN SUA ARTE CREDENDUM

[He should believe in his own work]. We allow full faith to our mechanics in their particular callings. No man thinks himself capable of instructing his shoemaker or tailor. Indeed we swallow what the physician orders with our eyes shut and sign the deed the lawyer lays before us with very little inquiry. But every gentleman can build a house, a prison,[school] or a city. This appears extraordinary, for when a gentleman sets about the work, he has the interests of all those he employs in array against his fortune, without any protection in his won knowledge. The mechanical arts employed in the erection of a capital building are more than twenty. Of these every architect has a competent knowledge so as to judge of the quality as well as the value and the amount of the work. But it is at least twenty to one against the gentleman who trusts only himself that he will lose 5 percent, at least.[THAT "5% was over two centuries ago!-MB]

Quoted from a letter from Benjamin Henry Latrobe to Robert Mills,. 12 July 1806